|| Print ||
|Friday, March 14, 2014|
BY TOM COX |OB BLOGGER
My mornings are best when I start them off reading something stimulating, challenging and enlightening.
These are the books I couldn’t put down over the past few months.
Out of the Crisis by W. Edwards Deming
Everyone who manages (or who wants to understand the sources of quality) need to read this unpolished, genuine account of Deming’s thinking. Richly interspersed with quotes and interviews of workers that could have been recorded yesterday, this timeless book will recharge your excitement over being the leader your followers crave. Summary: workers want to do good work; here are the myths cluttering your head that are stopping you from helping them effectively.
Biggest insight I got: Deming gives a simple mathematical way to see if individual performance metrics are reflecting real individual differences, or just variations created by your system. Obviously, you can’t improve system performance through individual incentives! For that you need systemic change.
The Moment of Clarity: Using the Human Sciences to Solve Your Toughest Business Problems by Christian Madsbjerg, Mikkel B. Rasmussen
I’m a big fan of brainstorming and group process work, so Madsbjerg and Rasmussen’s sharp, accurate critique on the limits of such activities — tossed in casually in the first section — rocked me back on my heels and made me read closely. Summary: Moment of Clarity breaks truly new ground for managers and leaders — laying bare the thinking and outlining the steps needed for “sensemaking” (the core skill needed to cope with a world that changes faster each day), and for mastering a crucial form of problem-solving, abductive reasoning.
I call this the best new business book of the year.
Guide to Business Modelling, Third Edition (Economist Series) by John Tennent, Graham Friend
In my consulting work I often need to build Excel models of complex questions — like how to set prices, how to set discount levels, how to predict (and track) the way revenue will shift as a client changes from one set of core customers to another.
This book dramatically improved my Excel skills, while providing a more robust modeling methodology than my home-grown one. I’ve adopted most of their guidance because it really does work better. The examples are also excellent. Couple this book with one of my frequently mentioned favorites, How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business (a revised edition comes out this month), for extra juice.
Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow, by Chip Conley
At the recent “100 Best Places to Work in Oregon” event, it was revealed that the top companies’ employees were happiest about having a company purpose or mission they could believe in. This book — among other virtues — gives you the recipe for uncovering your unstated mission, or for restating your current mission in far more compelling terms.
I was most impressed with the author’s fidelity to Maslow’s insights, while weaving in the work of dozens of other writers and thinkers. Conley is a great synthesizer of ideas who doesn’t over-simplify them.
The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How, by Daniel Coyle
This is the book I wish I’d had when I was parenting younger kids — and planning my own career development. It’s never too late to start doing things better, and if you are serious about managing your own talents or nurturing those of your staff, this book will delight you while giving you insights.
My personal takeaway is to struggle more at the edge of my competence, rather than repeatedly doing things I’m already good at. This sort of “edge practice” is where learning is fastest. And take a close look at the graph on how one’s commitment level boosts the effectiveness of practice. A highly committed learner will improve more from low frequency practice, than a low commitment learner will from high frequency practice. Combine high commitment with high frequency and the effect is massive.
Tom Cox blogs on leadership for Oregon Business.
|Child care challenge|
|Is there life beyond Reed?|
|Back to School|
|Ninkasi grows to NY|
|Eco challenges facing Oregon|
|Adidas produces special shoe for upcoming Timbers/Sounders match|
|Intel invests $60M in drone company|
|Congestion should be expected|
|How many devices are using Windows 10?|
|Aftermath of the Ashley Madison hack|
Transforming the culture of Oregon’s educational leadership.
The Board dismissed a petition related to efforts to unionize the Northwestern University football team.
Every once in a while we receive a letter in the (fictional) mailbag that is tough to describe and quite compelling. This week, Isabel, the new HR manager at LabCo (and someone who is new to HR), wants to know whether she may fire the owner’s son for having an Oregon medical marijuana card. In passing, Isabel also makes a number of alarming admissions about her motivation. Here is Isabel’s nerve-racking question and our response to it.
Oregon Sick Leave is here, and changes to the federal white-collar worker regulations are on the way. This workshop will prepare you for both. We invite you to participate in an interactive discussion on how to start planning now for the future impact on your operations and finances.
Presented by OEN + CENTRL + YESpdx.
This Roundtable will cover numerous issues under the employer "shared responsibility" rules of the Affordable Care Act, including how to track the "full-time" status of variable-hour employees, temporary or seasonal employees, and employees who experience a change in status or a break in service. Additionally, we will provide a brief overview of Code sections 6055 and 6056, which require most mid-sized and large employers to submit their first information reports to the IRS in early 2016 regarding the health insurance coverage being offered to employees. We invite you to participate in an interactive discussion on how to prepare for the future impact of the shared responsibility rules on your operations and finances.